ROXANA — Anytime the Roxana Shells and Southwestern Piasa Birds take the baseball field together emotions are going to be riding high.
Unfortunately for the Shells, the Piasa Birds have earned the bragging rights over them this season. After beating them 2-1 on April 17 at home in a South Central Conference game, Southwestern visited Roxana on Friday and won a nonconference contest by the score of 10-3.
The Shells dipped to 9-12 overall with the loss, while the Piasa Birds elevated their record to 17-7 and have won eight of their last 10.
Southwestern pitcher Andrew Fry was the difference maker on Friday. The senior hurler went the distance, tossing 84 pitches while scattering nine hits, allowing three runs, all earned, walking two and fanning three. Fry improved to 5-0 on the season with the win.
“Fry, he’s a competitor,” Southwestern head coach Brian Hanslow said. “He struggled in the fifth inning a little bit, but he got out of it. We made some plays on defense and that’s what we pride ourselves on. You don’t have to strike everybody out. Let our defense work. Usually it works out pretty good.”
Fry did a good job of getting ahead of hitters and controlling most of the hitters he faced. On the other side, sophomore Zach Golenor struggled with control and had to work from behind, leading to some tough situations.
“Zach’s young, so he’s working at it. He just struggled there,” first-year Roxana head coach Scott Harper said. “We got him in a bad spot, left one out there where they get the two in the first inning, so we’re digging from a hole already. It was just ineffectiveness of getting command and getting a routine. Any time you do that and work from behind, it just makes it tough.
“I’m sticking with him. He’s going to be a good one for us. He’s coming around. He’s had some good outings for us.”
Fry, whose control helped keep his pitch count in check, explained the importance of getting ahead of hitters.
“If the pitcher is ahead 0-1, in it's in your hands,” Fry said. “You've got control of that at-bat and you can mix it up.”
Southwestern struck gold early. A walk to Alex Baldwin and a single from Blake Lawson put two in with one out in the top of the first. After Golenor induced a grounder from Scott Kasting, Cody Roberts provided the thunder, cranking a two-run double off the right field fence to stake the Birds to a 2-0 lead.
The Shells responded in the home-half of the first when Chance Foss smoked a RBI triple to left field to lead things off. Blake Vandiver hit a sac fly to plate Foss and cut the lead to 2-1.
That's the way it remained until the third when it got ugly for Roxana. The Piasa Birds sent 10 hitters to the dish in the third, scoring five runs to extend their lead to 7-1. Two runs were walked in, while Collin Baumgartner provided a RBI single and Zack Seymour smacked a two-run single to highlight the inning.
Golenor was lifted for Josh Rudd in the fourth, but Southwestern continued to pour it on. Lawson worked a leadoff walk and Kasting quickly tripled him home to make it 8-1. A walk to Roberts was followed by a RBI single from Fry and then a throwing error on Jacob Ritzhaupt's hit let Fry score and push it to 10-1.
Harper went to the bullpen again, this time calling on Logan Reardon. He quickly got out of the fourth with a ground out and strike out and no more damage done. The problem was the damage was already done and the Shells had to try and climb out of the hole.
“It's just hard to overcome when you get that big of a hole,” Harper said. “You get ready for this, your rivalry game and then they put up a big five spot like that and it makes it tough.”
The Shells chipped away in the fifth. Tanner Davis led off with a single and Billy Mathis walked, giving way to courtesy runner Austin Presley. They moved up a base on Golenor's grounder and then Foss and Vandiver provided consecutive RBI singles to cut it to 10-3. Reardon followed with a walk to load the bases, but a pop out and a line out ended the inning with the Shells leaving the bags stuffed.
“We had that Wednesday night,” Harper said of the 4-3 loss to Marquette. “We loaded the bases two different times and just hit balls right at people and that's kind of the, 'here we go again' thing, but we're hitting some balls. We told them we're getting quality at-bats and we're just hitting the ball right at people, then the one flare we hit and Kasting is able to run it down.
“It's going to come, you just have to keep fighting through it. It's hard facing adversity like that and it's how you handle it.”
Hanslow was happy to escape Roxana with a win. The Birds and the Shells have a big SCC rivalry and getting two wins goes a little toward the one Southwestern lost to Roxana to end its season a year ago.
“Roxana’s our rival,” Hanslow said. “We’re still (upset) that they beat us last year in the regional.”
SOUTHWESTERN 10, ROXANA 3
Southwestern 2 0 5 3 0 0 0 — 10 13 1
Roxana 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 — 3 9 1
ROXANA (9-12) — Chance Foss 3-4 3B RBI, Blake Vandiver 2-3 SAC 2 RBIs, Logan Reardon 0-3 BB, Randy Skiff 1-3, Andrew Moore 2-3, Tanner Davis 1-3, Billy Mathis 0-2 BB.
LP — Zach Golenor 3.0IP 7H 7R 7ER 5BB 0K
Josh Rudd 0.1IP 3H 3R 2ER 2BB 0K
Reardon 2.2IP 2H 0R 0ER 0BB 3K
Foss 1.0IP 1H 0R 0ER 1BB 1K
SOUTHWESTERN (17-7) — Zack Seymour 2-4 BB 2 RBIs, Alex Baldwin 1-4 BB, Blake Lawson 3-4 BB, Scott Kasting 2-3 3B RBI, Cody Roberts 1-2 2B IBB BB 2 RBIs, Andrew Fry 1-2 2 BBs 2 RBIs, Jacob Ritzhaupt 1-3 BB, Collin Baumgartner 2-4 RBI.
WP — Fry 7.0IP 9H 3R 3ER 2BB 3K